Rise of the Ranger: The Echoes Saga: Book 1 by Philip C. Quaintrell. Quaintrell Publishings, Ltd. 538 pages.
I picked this fantasy book up recently because (1) the cover looked professionally done and interesting; and (2) the book was free. I didn’t know exactly what to expect, but it looked promising, and I wasn’t disappointed. It wasn’t until I finished the book that I learned that it was self published, which says a lot for the quality of this book and this series.
Here’s the Amazon summary:
THE ECHOES OF FATE, A PROPHECY UTTERED UNTO THE WORLD A THOUSAND YEARS AGO, CANNOT BE DENIED…
Mankind has lorded over the land of Illian for a thousand years, building on the ruins left by the elves, as if it were their birthright. A thousand years is a long time for an immortal race to see the truth of things, a truth that has remained unsaid for a millennium – elves are superior. They are faster, stronger and connected to the magical realm in a way that man could never grasp. Illian should belong to them.
Unaware of the shadow that looms in the east, the six kingdoms of man are fractured, unallied, and clawing at each other’s gates for more power.
This isn’t just war set to ravage the land, but a slaughter – the world of man cannot hope to survive.
Thrown into the heart of this war is a man known by many names; an Outlander of the wilds, an assassin, a ranger. Asher was born a thousand years ago, to a life he doesn’t remember. Forty years of brutal training and killing for money has beaten the earliest years of his life away, leaving his ties to the oldest of evils a mystery to all…
This is your typical sword-and-sorcery book, along the likes of the Circle of Time series. It has a lot going for it, including lots of action, good sword and bow fights, some good characterization including that of the main characters. Like the Circle of Time and other series like it, it’s a complex story that takes many volumes to tell. And I felt like the author hit his stride best in the second half of the book, or maybe I had just figured things out by that point.
That brings up my only real concern: world building. the world that Quaintrell builds is complex, and he includes several maps in the front of the book to help the reader understand who is who and what is going on. But there is a lot of overlap with the maps and the nations identified in the story aren’t identified on the maps. Further, the story makes reference to dwarves and elves, with elves playing prominently in the story. But I was disappointed that the elves created here weren’t really that much different than the humans, just, as the author points out, bigger, stronger, faster and immortal. If you’re going to have a unique race in a story, make them unique, please.
That being said, it was an entertaining story. The series goes on for nine books (at least so far), but even though I enjoyed the story, I don’t think I will be reading the second one. At least anytime soon. It didn’t stick with me and make me want to know what was going to happen next enough.
I give it four out of five stars.